-=PCTechTalk=- Re: Web site building 101?

  • From: GMan <gman.pctt@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <pctechtalk@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 4 Jan 2008 23:33:50 -0500

    First of all, I know that this reply is going to be a bit long-winded. 
I'm trying to give you a lot of info in a short amount of time so that you 
have all you need for the decisions you'll soon be making.  Remember that 
you're not going into this all alone, as I and the rest of the website 
creating fools here will be able to provide you with whatever info you need 
at almost any time, night & day (someone's always awake somewhere, right?).

    The best thing I'm hearing is that all of the content is there.  That 
would be the stuff that's impossible to recreate, especially since access to 
your old site at Earthlink is no longer available.  So, now we come to the 
place where you choose between your options for recreating the site.  Before 
you even consider any of the options, I will STRONGLY suggest that you 
locate that Word document and make a copy of it.  This will largely 
eliminate the chance of losing the content from file corruption.  Save that 
copy to somewhere other than your hard drive and it'll protect it from the 
possibility of a hard drive crash, as well.  I don't mean to sound like a 
worry wart (that may just be a local saying), but I always feel safer about 
my most important files when I know they're safely backed up somewhere.

    Now, in order to post a site to a non-templatized (yeah, I made up that 
word, but it makes sense) location such as your own domain, there are 
several things you'll need.  First, you'll need a web host.  A web host is a 
company that will supply the actual server space you'll use to hold all of 
the files that make up your site.  When someone types in the address or 
clicks on a link to a page on your site, that request immediately goes to a 
DNS server that will look up the actual location of that requested page. 
The DNS server will then forward the request to the web host server above 
and then that server will 'serve up' the requested page to that person.  In 
other words, the DNS server operates as a sort of traffic cop in that it 
tells our browser requests that http://www.anitra.com can be found at 
http://wwwmywebhost.com and that http://wwwmywebhost.com 's real internet 
address is 123.456.78.90.  This is how almost all web traffic is routed 
about the internet.  The host you choose should take care of setting up the 
DNS routing for you (they will inform the powers that be that your domain 
leads requests directly to your rented space on their server).  It's also 
not expensive at all to have a host store & serve the files for you, but 
shop and ask around for recommendations.

    Of course, you could download web hosting software and try to set up 
your own server, but your site would only be available when the server and 
this software was actually running.  It's not something I would suggest that 
someone run on their main system, because web traffic will require a bit of 
the computer's system resources.  I'll further add that it's not a simple 
matter to set up any kind of server.  Unless it's a private server with 
username/password access, you're definitely going to have to keep up on any 
and all security issues to keep the crackers from breaking into the site. 
Adding security software to protect the site will also cause a performance 
hit on a typical home server.  If it sounds like I'm trying to steer you 
away from this idea, you're right.  In most cases, it's much cheaper and 
less frustrating to let professionals with LOTS of equipment do the hosting 
for you.

    Another thing you'll need is to have all of your eventual page elements 
available to you as individual files.  That means every image that you want 
to include on your site needs to be an individual file on your hard drive. 
Most likely, the template server at Earthlink provided you with numerous 
images that you could use in the making of your site there.  Unfortunately, 
their use was provided for as long as you were using that template and 
letting Earthlink host the page(s).  Since they are most likely copyrighted 
by Earthlink, you are not permitted to use them anywhere else.  This means 
that you now have the opportunity to redesign the site using more unique 
images.  There are lots of places that will provide you with 'royalty free' 
images that you can use &/or you can make your own.  As needed, I will be 
happy to guide you to some excellent software that will allow you to create 
whatever you might need (banners, buttons, image maps, etc.).  There are 
also lots of software that will let you incorporate other elements (using 
various types of scripts like JavaScript, java, etc) into your site, but 
that's probably more than you need to think about right now.  Just remember 
that getting started and completing a site is not difficult at all.  And, 
you can always expand your horizons (and your site) if you should ever 
choose to go that route.

Now, onto some of your options:

1.    Since you have Word installed, do you also have FrontPage?  FrontPage 
is what's known as a WYSIWYG web site editor (See below * for a more 
detailed description) with some pretty powerful abilities and it's offered 
as part of certain older versions of MS Office 97, 2000 & XP.  MS stopped 
making FrontPage after OfficeXP, so it wouldn't be available if you've only 
installed Office products newer than that.  Even if you have upgraded from 
one of the older to newer versions, it may still be available on your system 
since the newer upgrades should not have removed the older FrontPage.

2.    There are many freeware and open source WYSIWYG web site editors 
available that can be downloaded and tested as you see fit.

3.    I have numerous files that detail and explain how to write your own 
HTML code and would be more than happy to share with you whatever you might 
need/want (as copyrights allow, of course).  Since you've recently found 
yourself without as much work as before, you might consider learning to 
'code by hand'.  If you're intention is to develop anything resembling a 
Major site (lots of traffic and worshipp, errrr, I mean interested viewers), 
knowing how to control elements by directly editing the code (and being able 
to scan other site's HTML code when looking for ideas) should become a 
serious goal.  Some WYSIWYG editors (including FrontPage) also have a 
control that will switch your own work over to an 'HTML code' view where 
you'll be able to learn this topic as you go.

4.    You could also hand over a copy of your Word file to a web designer 
type and have them do the work of converting it to the full site plus 
support files that you'll need to make your new location work.

    Above all, take your time and try out different things to see if it's 
right for you.  There are too many options available for you to 'settle' 
with anything that almost does what you need it to do.  If you're not sure 
what else is available or if all of the stuff above is kind enough to bless 
you with some questions, just give a lil' yodel.       ;O)

* A WYSIWYG website editor allows you to work on web pages as you're 
audience would see them.  You can highlight and then use drag & drop to move 
things around until you are happy with the arrangement of various page 
elements, somewhat similar to the way you worked with Earthlink's site 
creation templates.  Except that you'll have even more control over what 
goes where.  Most WYSIWYG editors also include numerous Themes that you can 
apply to every page of the entire site at once, regardless of how many pages 
are involved.  the primary difference between a WYSIWYG website editor and 
those templates is that you'll be working on your site right there on your 
hard drive, instead of through a web interface.  This means you'll need to 
upload your files to the new site when you're ready to 'publish' the site 
again.  I have often used this feature to upload partially finished sites 
just so I could test how they look in different browsers.  Many WYSIWYG 
editors include an option to upload the site and some of those will allow 
you to specify if it should include all files or just those that have 
changed since the last time the site was uploaded.  I'll also add that 
working within one of these types of editors is a LOT of fun (and highly 
educational).         :O)

"The only dumb questions are the ones we fail to ask!"

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Anitra" <anitra@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <pctechtalk@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Friday, January 04, 2008 7:56 PM
Subject: -=PCTechTalk=- Re: Web site building 101?

> All pages are copy/pasted together into *one* Word file,
> and saved. The full content is there minus the background.
> I'm beginning to feel optimistic!  But it's still a riddle to
> me  ;)
> Anitra ~ 

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